In truth, I’m not quite sure why I feel optimistic about this country’s situation because the core data would depress a saint. Here, I am not talking about the Stock Market, GDP growth, or the Housing Market—because these are lousy ways to measure the wellbeing of most of the population—but about the nuts and bolts data that concern how most people really live. In addition, I’ve recently uncovered something of a data treasure trove concerning how Northern Europe is doing—and why they are succeeding where we are not—and that would probably push the pope onto hard drugs (if he was an American).
In short, my optimism doesn’t make sense in any logical way. So, why am I feeling it? I suspect I’m feeling it because I detect the first stirrings of a real fight-back against the forces that have gone a long way towards wrecking this country. Or maybe I’m just in a good mood.
If the fight-back really is occurring—and the signs are very faint—we shall have the 1% and the Extreme Right (which, sadly, now seems to include most Republicans in Congress) to thank because their behavior is so egregious that it has to promote a reaction at some stage.
The latest nastiness concerns the 1.2 million long term unemployed losing their federal unemployment insurance on December 28 2013. It’s truly disgusting behavior and it’s inexcusable. It invites consequences—and they seldom refuse an invitation.
You know one of my direct ancestors, Benjamin Lentaigne, came to Ireland as a direct consequence of the French Revolution. Other family members were not so lucky and were guillotined. They were executed not because they did anything in particular, but largely because they didn’t act when most of the French population were having a very hard time economically. The Lentaignes were counts, aristocrats and the members of the 1%—and they paid the price.
Actually, the fully family name is Lentaigne de Logivieres and the ancestral home is in Normandy. It’s still there.
Guillotines in the U.S.? Probably not—this is a gun culture—but there is going to be a profound reaction when enough people realize how distorted this economy has become—and that the major it of the 1% don’t seem to care.
I say the majority because clearly some of our wealthy do care. On that point, there is an excellent article in the current issue of DEMOCRACY magazine by NICK HANAUER and ERICK BEINHOCKER which starts:
“For everyone but the top 1 percent, the American economy is broken…”
Since I have been saying this for more than a decade, it’s pleasant indeed to have company. But caring isn’t enough. We have to do—and above all get the message out.